Faith and the “Subtle Fight”

If you have walked with any sort of awareness of the spirit world you are aware that we are in a battle. In the book of Ephesians we are even given the list of the armor we should be using every day. Paul exhorts us to be strong in the Lord and the power of his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. for we are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in heavenly places. Therefore, put on every pieces of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Ephesians 6: 10-13

Many of our battles are obvious–a car accident, an unexpected diagnosis, financial issues usually catch our attention quickly. But many of Satan’s attacks are much more subtle. Friction between loved ones, discontentment with leadership, discouragement with your lot in life are often signs that he has been working behind the scenes in your life. The word subtle is defined as elusive, hard to detect and sneaky! Sounds like Satan’s ways, correct?

Sometimes the reason people do not take these verses seriously is because they don’t feel they are a strong enough threat to the enemy to warrant him to attack them. If this is you my dear ones, please know that he is using this subtle mental attack already to make you feel “safe” or “unworthy” of his attention. This gives him an opening to increase his sneak attacks on you and your circle of influence. What I have learned over the years is he is relentless in his warfare. He does not quit or give up. His attacks begin very subtly. The word subtle means sneaky, not easily discerned, elusive. If/when we learn to discern these subtle attacks we can go on the offensive rather than the defensive. If we do not discern them, then he will distract us by helping us focus on the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things that come and choke the word, making it unfruitful. (Mark 4:19 (NIV) If he can use our own fleshly desires and weaknesses, (either making us feel stronger than we are-pride; or weaker than we are-inferior) he will have won the battle. Jesus won the war through the cross and his subsequent resurrection, but we have our part to play as well. Dear believers, do not let his wily ways drain your strength, focus and identity. This subtle warfare begins in our thought life. Capture any thoughts that would cause division, disunity or discouragement. He loves to distort our relationships and cause doubt and distrust of our leaders, our spouses and even our friends. Go on the offensive by setting your minds on things above (read through Philippians!) Pray for your leaders, your family and even “your enemies”. This is one of our most important weapons!

Father, I ask you to open our eyes to anywhere subtle Satan has influenced us. Help us to stand against his wiles and join in the battle today. David prayed that you would teach our fingers to fight and our hands to do warfare–show us what that means. Help us to embrace the battle, not run from it. Help us to understand our part in the fight and who our enemy is. Lord strengthen your people with compassion, diligence and persevering hearts. We ask that you open our eyes to your power and might. We stand against his subtleties this day and refuse to cooperate with his tactics. We are not victims, but victors, in Jesus Name.

Faith and Trusting Christ in You!

Every life, believers or not, face struggles. It is part of just living on this earth. The amazing part of walking with Jesus is we are not ALONE in these struggles. He is not only with us–he is in us–the hope of glory. Paul wrote encouraging words to church at Colossae, words we can glean for ourselves. For God wanted them (us) to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory! (Colossians 1:17)

My question to all of us today is–have you forgotten that Christ lives within you? That we have access to His power, His might, the fruit of His Spirit? He is working in our hearts and lives His wonders to perform–but these are definitely things we must deliberately with intention release our faith to receive the full benefits of. Someone once told me that the Holy Spirit is a gentlemen and as such He will never force himself where he is not invited or asked. But–once we ask and release our faith to trust He is answering that request watch out! He will begin to show you things that before you might have missed. He will open your eyes to His workmanship in you .

Have you ever felt like giving up? Wondering if it is all worth it? Most likely your hope is under attack. These type of attacks usually are sneaky and subtle—like rain slowly eroding an embankment. The confident walk and hopeful future begins to fade, we begin to wonder if we even have a future–must less a good one! However, thanks be to our God who stirs us up and reminds us that He is our hope. Romans 8:24 We were given this hope when we were saved, (if we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently. If you find your hope ebbing it’s important to do a re-set.

Our hope can become disappointed, disillusioned and discouraged when it is misplaced. We must make sure our hope is in Him–not necessarily in a person or thing. In my own life, coming to terms of being a widow was difficult. Darryl and I had a motto: “the best is yet to come–grow old with me”. It didn’t happen. As my life changed, so did my assumptions. I had to renew my hope in the Christ who lives within me. The Christ who knows me. The Christ who is still bringing me into a hopeful future. I choose today to enjoy Him and HIs promises. I choose today to say yes to His Hope in me and for me. This is the day I will rejoice and be glad in Him because I can! Do not let Satan steal your hope through misplaced expectations. Release your faith Him and trust His plans. It really is worth it!

Faith and Denying Yourself

The last two weeks I have shared some true stories of accepting God’s direction in our lives to make a seeming illogical trip from Idaho to Rhode Island–with two you children, a VW Van and almost no money! We finally made it to Providence and what was to become the Eastern headquarters of the ministry we belonged to. We arrived road weary but full of God’s testimonies. We knew a few of the people, but there were many new brothers and sisters to get to know.

A few days after our arrival we went to Massachusetts, to attend the wedding of our long time friends. On the way to the wedding, we stopped at another ministry home. As we walked into the house I heard in my spirit Satan laughing and cackling–“some ministry house this is. ” It was a shock to me–and I found myself replying to his taunts–God, I don’t care what you have to do, shut him up. I found out later that the current leaders were struggling with marriage issues and other attacks which led them to seek some not so wise choices influenced by our enemy.

As I stood there in the foyer and I heard those taunts, as I responded to those taunts with that phrase “no matter what it takes” I did not know the course of change I was setting in motion. The following day our overseer asked Darryl and I if we could/would move into that home and take over the pastorate! This was not what I expected. I already felt awkward and confused by some of the obvious differences between the west and the east–but I had asked the Lord to make the changes, so what choice did I have? If you are upset about something–be prepared to be the solution! Talk about denying my flesh and wants–this was not on our agenda. We had planned to be gone two weeks and now we were being asked to remain for an unspecified time! As we discussed what would happen to our home and church in Idaho, what it would mean for the church and ministry there in Massachusetts, we felt God say yes. He would work all those other things out.

None of it was easy. It definitely became a learning school for us in so many ways. The Holy Spirit began to teach me some very interesting lessons. Such as the familiar is always “better” than the “new”. I found myself comparing the west coast to the east coast, and due to this prejudice the west coast always seemed better. I finally learned, different is just different and to stop putting a judgment on it (which was a great lesson to have learned when we did overseas ministry!). I learned that spiritual warfare is real. For months I had to remind myself everyday that putting on the helmet of salvation was not an option! To defeat and silent that voice took perseverance and determination. I learned about homesickness, and how to give it to the Lord. It has given me compassion for the many military folks we’ve encountered here in Washington. I learned the God loves, cares for our nation and he loves diversity. As the years passed and we traveled back and forth from the east to the west, I learned to appreciate the different aspects of our nation. Yes, we had to “deny ourselves” to live in a new place, learning new ways and new things–but it was worth it. We made long time friends and it opened doors of ministry and influence that we still have today.

We discussed in our Life Group the other day what denying yourself meant versus self-denial. Someone described it this way, self denial is our decision to refrain from something, while denying our self for the gospel’s sake is submitting to God’s request. There is no way we can take up our cross and follow him without first recognizing it entails His will, not our will. Learning to trust His will as the better way takes the doing it! As we practice it everyday, it becomes easier to say yes. I still struggle from time to time, but I have learned that His way really is the better way. It is not always the easy way, nor without pain, but we can trust it will bring good fruit. I love and miss my east coast brethren. My life is sooo much richer because of them. The lessons were hard, but the fruit is sweeter. Please say yes to Him, you won’t regret it.

Faith and Learning to be a Disciple Part 2

If you followed last weeks blog–we headed out from Idaho with Massachussetts and Rhode Island as our destination. We left with $45 from Idaho, two babies and a VW Van. After our adventure in the Rockies with the tire event we headed out on Monday morning. We had the $50 offering from the church who rescued us and a good nights rest in the pastor’s home because his family was away.

We journeyed on. Praying, praising and trusting His direction. Our next scheduled stop was Youngstown, OH where I would finally meet Darryl’s grandparents and other various relatives for the first time. About 150 miles or so from Youngstown we had a blow out. By God’s grace we were in front of a rest area and were able to change the tire. I remember Darryl laying his head on the steering wheel, asking the Lord, “are we going to make it?” Sometimes when you are choosing to obey, you expect things to be easy. You expect God to clear out the paths because you are following Him. It doesn’t always happen that way. We were tired and yes a bit hungry. We had food for our littles, but Darryl and were eating peanut butter on a spoon! It was like our manna in the wilderness.

With rush hour traffic and our gas gauge registering empty we finally pulled into his grandparents home. We were exhausted and had no money left, but we made it to a safe haven. His grandparents rushed out to meet us–excited to see him again after many years with a wife and great grand kids in tow! After the initial greetings, they told Darryl to go lay down and had myself and the girls in their car within about 15 minutes of our arrival! I was too overwhelmed to even say anything. We went to Woolworth’s where they bought clothes and goodies for the girls–then to Sparkles (a local chain grocery store) for Dum dums suckers. These wonderful folks were a bit old school about what they thought children should eat and how they should behave. We made it. The next day we visited other relatives. In God’s amazing economy and provision we were given “congratulations on your new baby cards” (she was sixth months old!) with cash included. Darryl’s grandfather bought us two tires, and as we left he gave us one of his homemade pizzas!

About two hours outside of Youngstown, Darryl noticed a problem with our van. I had just gotten our children to sleep so when he mentioned stopping I said, “on Lord, no!” Not another problem. I don’t want to wake them up. In my devotional study for the morning, I had came across this little scripture in 2 Corinthians 12:15. And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you…

This scripture challenges us to allow the Lord to use us, “spend us” as He sees fit for His kingdom’s sake. As we drove into the rest area (yes the girls did wake up) we watched God use our situation again for His glory and testimony. We were in the state of Pennsylvania. They had full time care keepers (watchers!) at their rest areas. He came and very abruptly wanted to know what was wrong (as Darryl opened the engine department). Darryl said, I don’t know, but God will help. The guy swore and gruffly asked are you a mechanic? Darryl said, No. As the man urged us to call a tow truck to get our broken van towed, Darryl just calmly prayed and asked the Lord to show him the problem. He noticed a silver threaded hole that should have had some sort of plug of sorts in it. It was missing. As he kept looking, down in the lip of the rubber gasket that kept the engine compartment closed was a little needle valve. The man stood there in awe. He really didn’t know what to say. That valve should have/could have fallen off miles before, but it didn’t. Darryl shared the gospel with the man. He didn’t respond, but he heard. God spent us for him.

We drove on. Made it to Providence and our ministry co-workers with $50 to spare! Release your faith to follow Him. Allow Him to spend you as He will. It may be inconvenient for your flesh, but your spirit will prosper. This trip changed all of us. The girls were too young to remember, bu they had heard the story and it builds their faith. Our obedience is not just for ourselves.

Faith and Learning to be a Disciple

Follow me and I will make you fishers of men, Jesus told the first disciples. They left all and followed Him. They left their livelihood, their relationships and set off on an unknown adventure. Reading about their journeys with Jesus is inspiring and challenging. I have experienced some amazing adventures with Jesus as well. Back in 1977 we were invited to attend a wedding in Massachusetts. During this season we were pioneering a small church in Spirit Lake, Idaho. Our overseer felt it was a God thing for us to come as well–not just for the wedding, but also to see what He was doing on the east coast through this ministry. We began to make preparations.

We prayed. We had little money to work with–so we expected God to supply somehow, some way. A couple came to be the interim pastor for us. My husband build some beds in our VW van for us to sleep at night. We kept on praying. Still no great supply of funds. Everyday we expected the mailbox to hold the “answer”….but nothing appeared. Interestingly enough, we never mentioned to our Overseer that we did not have the money to make the trip. We just kept on believing and trusting the Lord. As we prayed separately, we both felt impressed to leave at 4:00 p.m. on a Saturday–how specific can you get? There is power in agreement! I remember Darryl declaring “I don’t care Satan what you do–I will be leaving this town at 4:00 on Saturday!” We packed the van and left with $25 to drive across this nation! We made a quick stop in Cour-de-lene Idaho and were given about 20 more dollars!

The first night we stopped at a rest area in the Rocky Mountains outside Butte, Montana. Even though it was June, it was still cold up in those mountains. I decided to start driving about 5;00 a.m. to make some distance. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to me our front left tire had gone flat in the night. I had never driven with a flat tire before so it took me a bit to figure out something was wrong. I woke Darryl and he quickly figured out what was wrong. He changed the tire and we headed down the Rockies one a 6% grade. Suddenly our left front tire bounced off ahead of us! Darryl skillfully with the help of God’s angels pulled the car quickly to the right and we stopped. Physics dictates we should have landed on our left front axle and flipped the van. Physics tells us that our axle should have been bent and damaged. However none of those things happened. Darryl jumped out of the van and started chasing the tire. But after two trips up and down the highway we never found it.

As I sat in the van with our girls, I could not have felt more guilt. It was my fault I had ruined our tire by driving on it. The spare was lost–along with the special lug nuts that VW’s use. Darryl hitchhiked back into Butte with the messed up tire. I prayed, ” God you have to be God here. We have no credit cards–no cash, just you.” I heard the Holy Spirit whisper, “get the girls ready for church. Darryl has connected with a pastor who will help you”. I obeyed those still quiet words. Not too long afterward, Darryl arrived with a pastor who did indeed help us. A small humble church who loved God and us that day. Darryl ended up preaching the night service and they gave us a cash offering of $50. We had enough gas money to make it to Youngstown, OH where we were expected by Darryl’s grandparents.

We had more adventures on that trip as we “followed Him”. It changed our lives. Following Jesus is not always easy, but it is always doable. He doesn’t always ask us to do such BIG faith steps–but I have found some of the smaller “asks” can be more difficult. “Call this person, now”, ‘Give this money to this person, now” can often be challenging as we learn to “deny ourselves” and follow him. Take time to read Mark 8:34-36 if you want to be challenged. I have never regretted saying yes to Him. We ended up in Rhode Island with $50! I’ll share the “rest of the story” next week!

Faith and A Road Trip

Last Thursday morning I left Oak Harbor, WA and drove across the state of Washington to the city of Spokane–353 miles to meet up with a cherished friend I hadn’t seen in over twenty years. I had told her I would try to come last year, but unfortunately my stamina did not allow me to make the trip. So with faith and determination I called her and we made it happen! It was a beautiful day to leave my island home, drive across the Cascade Mountains and into the farmlands of eastern Washington. I had forgotten just how diverse our state is. I brought along an audio book called “Don’t Waste Your Life” by John Piper to help me pass the miles. I felt God’s presence, His grace and His peace as I drove along.

I made it to Spokane in seven and a half hours. Thanks to technology my GPS led me to her door. What a joy it was to see each other.Bonnie and her husband Harold had been our mentors for many years. Her husband also suffered a major stroke as did Darryl. It was her story that gave me courage to walk through my story in trusting God. She is a very young 86! Her faithfulness and perseverance is to be commended and followed. We laughed, we cried and we reminisced about things in the past and we encouraged each other about our present and our future. She shares a house with her wonderful daughter Carrie as well. Her beautiful yard, her immaculate home motivated me to declutter, beautify and enjoy my life in new depths.

The Lord has been speaking to me about doing a VLOG. This is a video version of a BLOG. So far I haven’t had the courage and where with all to actually capture some video! At the last minute I grabbed my “stuff”–microphone adapter, tripod and lenses and put them in the car. Our first night I mentioned to Bonnie and Carrie about my vision. They were both a bit reluctant, but eventually we did it! I have a long way to go to learn how to do the right set up, camera angles etc. I couldn’t get the new microphone to work, but we did it anyway! I will be posting the first VLOG soon! Check it out on Facebook if you can, under Martha Rodman. Little did I know that Bonnie’s board members have been asking her to do a BLOG! I think this trip helped encourage her to begin sharing God Thoughts with others.

I reluctantly said good bye Saturday morning to head 143 miles to my nephews home in Richland, WA to celebrate his eldest daughter’s high school graduation. It was a joy to be with my sister Marie’s family and spend time with them all. We do not get to do this that often. I was only there a few hours–but tried to add value, joy and encouragement as I could! We also shared some great smoked pork Matt made!

From Richland I headed 120 miles to Wenatchee, WA to spend time with my sister Carol, her husband Pat and their dear daughter Lyn. I was tired when I arrived, but it was such a blessing to catch up on their life and see how they were doing. Carol has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease since the last time I saw her. Fortunately with her meds, good care from her daughter she is doing well. I learned quickly to encourage her to move and do things for herself–not easy for me to sit back and let her get things for herself. They are a fun group to be with as there is a lot of laughter and joy. This season of life for them is not easy. They are beginning their 80’s with some health difficulties, but have chosen to approach them with hope and encouragement. My daughter Elizabeth sent them a picture she drew with the these words: May the Rest of Your Life be the Best of Your Life. It is the perfect reminder for them to make the most of what they do have, instead of focusing on what they don’t have.

I headed the 174 miles back home to Oak Harbor with my heart full, my body tired and my spirit renewed. I am so grateful that I made this trip. Because of my past health issues I felt stuck. Those have been broken and I am determined to follow Him wherever He leads me. I shared this story to encourage you to follow Him as well. Getting out of your current environment opens up your heart, spirit and thoughts to so many new things. As I am finishing out my 60’s in August I am taking heart by these folks who are in their 80’s to keep on growing, seeking, and living for Jesus.

Faith and Enjoying God’s Diversity

Since September I have had the privilege of teaching three of my grandchildren science–we have been focusing on “Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day”. To make it clear we are spending time looking at God’s great creation of ocean animals. It has been an amazing time in so many ways. I enjoy simply spending time with them during our studies and watching them become amazed at our God’s ability to make such diverse animals that live under the water!

This past week we looked at cephalopods. The word means “head foot” and there are four groups of these head footed animals. Octopuses, squid, cuttlefish and the nautilus. The surprising thing to me is that each of these creatures are members of what scientists call mollusks! Yes, right along with clams, oysters, muscles and scallops!

I’ve learned that octopuses (yes, that’s the plural form!) have three hearts and blue blood! Squid are a major diet for Asians. Cuttlefish have a little pouch under their eyes that hold two tentacles that spring out and capture their prey. Nautilus are the only ones of this group that have an exoskeleton, and are foragers for their prey. Yes, they too stick out in their tribe! Maybe you feel you are the “diverse” one in your family or church. That may be by His design. Rejoice in it! If you don’t know about these creatures–take time to Google them. Simply watching a live Nautilus swim is fascinating to me! I had only seen and handled and empty shell before–and had often wondered what and how what the animal was like who lived in that shell.

Studying such diverse creatures led me to look at my fellow humans. We are also a diverse group. Our living, working and eating behaviors vary from country to country–but even within each country there is vast cultural differences. Among our Christian “culture” we are diverse, and yet our Heavenly Father loves, cares and helps each of us. As I peered under the sea and began to appreciate the differences between whale species–both the baleen whales and toothed whales; can I learn to develop an appreciation for how others worship our God? Paul encourages us in Romans 14 Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. For instance, one person believes it’s all right to eat anything. But another believer with a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. Those who feel free to eat anything must not look down on those who don’t. And those who don’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do. For God has accepted them. Who are you to condemn someone else’s servants? Their own master will judge whether they stand or fall. And with the Lord’s help, they will stand and receive his approval.

Of course there are some non-negotiables in the Word where we must stand firm. However, as I have learned to appreciate God’s diversity under the sea, I have also learned to appreciate His diversity in His Body. I have begun to see the blessing of those who worship with liturgy. They find a familiar comfort in praying with a predictable form. It is not my “cup of tea”, but I used to not understand why anyone would settle for it. (See my prejudice? I felt they were “settling” for something less than what I found life-giving. I can appreciate those who worship with hymns, there are some powerful words and declarations in them. I can appreciate those who major on the Word and those who Major on “following the Spirit”. As we all seek to serve our Savior with humble determination, He will lead us to the balance we all need. Not one church, denomination or “non-denomination” has it all. As we open our hearts to God’s voice we can appreciate our brothers and sisters in some new ways. We need each other. God said it was OK for the sea creatures to devour each other–not something He condones for us! Love and an ability to trust our Father raise His other children is key.

Philippians 2:3 encourages us with these words. Don’t be selfish: don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others , too.